Ibn Firnas Flies Again — More Trouble with 1001 Inventions

In my last post I discussed various problems with the claims from the book 1001 Inventions which attributed much scientific progress to Muslim scientists in the medieval period. Many of those claims in the context of astronomy were lacking, especially compared to the Greco-Roman contribution. However, there is one point that I mentioned was being argued before, but I didn’t talk about it since it was outside of the area of astronomy. However, it is worth doing, so I will make this post about the alleged flight of Abbas Ibn Firnas. As I mentioned before, the exhibit and book made claims about attempted flights by Ibn Firnas, and Taner Edis and Sonja Brentjes were very critical of this in their article for Skeptical Inquirer. However, Jason Colavito had issues with what Edis and Brentjes presented themselves, and Brentjes and Colavito had some back-and-forth. (Another post by Colavito also continues the discussion, and says too many nice things about me.) A big part of the issue was what the 1001 Inventions book and exhibit claimed and how those claims were understood by Edis and Brentjes. Colavito didn’t have the book but only Edis and Brentjes’ summary and assessment. So, I want to look at this more critically and with the main source material in hand just like I did in my previous post.

So first off, what is said to have happened in the 9th century was that Ibn Firnas had jumped off from a high point in the Spanish city of Cordoba. Our earliest source for this is the Moroccan chronicler Ahmed Mohammad al-Maqqari who wrote in the late 16th/early 17th century, about 700 years after the flights of Ibn Firnas. Now, he may be a late source, but al-Maqqari cites contemparies of Ibn Firnas, such as the Cordoban poet Mu’min ibn Said who was critical of Ibn Firnas. Enemy attestation is generally considered significant evidence for historians since it will tell things the other side may be unwilling to. Moreover, if we get something positive said by a hostile source about a character they took umbrage to, that is something that ought to be considered, at least if the source is contemporaneous and in the know. Here is what al-Maqqari says about Ibn Firnas’ flight in full:

Abú-l-’abbás Kasim Ibn Firnas, the physician, was the first who made glass out of clay, and who established fabrics of it in Andalus. He passes also as the first man who introduced into that country the famous treatise on prosody by Khalil, and who taught the science of music. He invented an instrument called al-minkdlah, by means of which time was marked in music without having recourse to notes or figures. Among other very curious experiments which he made, one is his trying to fly. He covered himself with feathers for the purpose, attached a couple of wings to his body, and, getting on an eminence, flung himself down into the air, when, according to the testimony of several trustworthy writers who witnessed the performance, he flew to a considerable distance, as if he had been a bird, but in alighting again on the place whence he had started his back was very much hurt, for not knowing that birds when they alight come down upon their tails, he forgot to provide himself with one. Múmen Ibn Sa’id has said, in a verse alluding to this extraordinary man,– “He surpassed in velocity the flight of the ostrich, but he neglected to arm his body with the strength of the vulture.” [This verse is better translated as “He flew faster than the phoenix in his flight when he dressed his body in the feathers of a vulture.”] The same poet has said in allusion to a certain figure of heaven which this Ibn Firnas, who was likewise a consummate astronomer, made in his house, and where the spectators fancied they saw the clouds, the stars, and the lightning, and listened to the terrific noise of thunder,– “The heavens of Abú-l-kásim ‘Abbás, the learned, will deeply impress on thy mind the extent of their perfection and beauty. “Thou shalt hear the thunder roar, lightning will cross thy sight: nay, by Allah! the very firmament will shake to its foundations. “But do not go underneath (the house), lest thou shouldst feel inclined, as I was, (seeing the deception,) to spit in the face of its creator.” The following verse is the composition of Ibn Firnas himself, who addressed it to the Amir Mohammed. “I saw the Prince of the believers, Mohammed, and the flourishing star of benevolence shone bright upon his countenance.” To which Mumen replied, when he was told of it, “Yes, thou art right, but it vanished the very moment thou didst come near it; thou hast made the face of the Khalif a field where the stars flourish; ay, and a dung-hill too, for plants do not thrive without manure.”

So, the only thing quoted about the flight by Al-Maqqari is that Ibn Firnas flew very fast and his body was covered in bird feathers. The rest about his flight is said to come from contemporaneous sources, but we don’t know what those where and if our chronicler also uses less reliable sources as well.

However, this is not the only source on the flight of Ibn Firnas. The website Muslim Heritage, in response to on criticisms of the 1001 Inventions exhibit, notes that there are other works that mention the flight that are older than al-Maqqari, including Ibn Hayyan, a Cordoban from the early 11th century, relatively close to the time of Ibn Firnas. Other historians near the time also record the event. Some of the details we get are that he was airborne for a long distance, though some say a short time, on the order of seconds. These are not necessarily inconsistent. In free-fall Ibrn Firnas, jumping from a tower, would have about 2.5 seconds if the tower or building is ~3 stories tall (minarets could be much taller; Koutoubia’s minaret from the 12th century is 77 meters tall). With even crude wings, some of that energy can take a flyer forward, extend the flight to several seconds and go a considerable distance, on the order of tens of meters. Since we don’t have hard numbers, there is nothing inconsistent with, say, a 10-second flight, and if traveling fast (like a phoenix as the poet said), the it’s possible to go a football field in that time (going 10 m/s, about top running speed for a human).

Ibn Firnas’ flying machine as depicted by the 1001 Inventions exhibit and website.

But how does 1001 Inventions talk about this (pp. 296-300)? First they describe a sort of parachute jump, which seems consistent with what was discussed above. However, they then talk about a later flights in which Ibn Firnas strapped wings to his arms and flew for ten minutes and gained considerable altitude. Here is the quote in full from the book (p. 297):

In the Rusafa area on the outskirts of Cordoba, Ibn Firnas mounted a hill and appeared before the crowd in his bird costume, made from silk covered with eagle feathers… [He] explained with a piece of paper how he planned to fly using the wings fitted on his arms: “Presently, I shall take leave of you. By guiding these wings up and down, I should ascend like the birds. If all goes well, after soaring for a time I should be able to return safely to your side.”

He flew to a significant height and hung in the air for more than ten minutes before plummeting to the ground, breaking the wings and one of his vertebrae.

And now things seem to have jumped the shark. What is described here is a powered flight. Ascending like a bird, flying for 10 minutes before plummeting, guiding wings up and down, returning to the starting point (or at least attempting to). And over and over again, the authors of 1001 Inventions call the wings of Ibn Firnas a “flying machine.” This description is like someone trying to flap their arms and successfully flying this way. And this is impossible. Humans don’t have the build to flap their arms and hold themselves up (at least on Earth; it might work on Titan!). This is not supported by the sources I have mentioned above (and Muslim Heritage has nothing to support that either), and it doesn’t fit what we know about history or physiology. Quite simply, this has as much plausibility as Dumbo.

(In addition, the rationalizing of Ibn Firnas about his fall being due to not having a proper tail which birds land on when coming down is factually wrong; birds do not land as such, and the connection to how aircraft today land is rather tenuous since not all planes land back-wheels first. Here’s a video of a Husky landing front-wheels first. Also, the Wright Brothers’ plane didn’t have a tail strictly speaking. The reason for landing rear-wheel first is not because of aerodynamics strictly but other design features.)

Best I can tell, 1001 Inventions is accepting later legends of the flight as historical fact, while the best sources and the more plausible interpretation of the evidence is not consistent with the powered flight as described. Al-Maqqari does say Ibn Firnas returned to his starting point, but we don’t know if his source is something contemporaneous or later legends that existed when he wrote in the 17th century. So it seems that there is massive conflation of sources and good and bad evidence about this flight.

Eilmer came down with a Fudd.

Now, I don’t doubt that Ibn Firnas had a glider-flight. After all, around the same time the Englishman Eilmer of Malmesbury had a similar flight, and the influential historian of science Lynn Townsend White believed Ibn Firnas made the glider flight. But was Ibn Firnas the first person to make such a glider-flight? Can a Muslim at least have that honor?

Unfortunately, no. We are told about the flight of Yuan Huangtou. In 559 CE, he built a large kite in order to escape from political enemies. His flight was apparently successful, but he was caught and executed anyways. Older Chinese records indicate other attempted flights, such as during the reign of Wang Mang of the Han Dynasty in the first century CE. The kites described are not outlandish, and the sorts of flights they provided are plausible. Marco Polo also talks of these kites as if commonplace; though not a great source, it does square with the other Chinese sources. And they are all much earlier than the flight of Ibn Firnas and Eilmer of Malmesbury.

But could the flight of Ibn Firnas have been the inspiration for Western innovations in flight (Muslim Heritage things so)? China wasn’t, was it? 1001 Inventions suggests that Roger Bacon learned of the idea of the ornithopter potentially from Ibn Firnas when Bacon studied in Cordoba. An interesting claim considering I find no evidence that Bacon ever lived in Spain (the overly-flattering biography of Bacon doesn’t even mention Cordoba and doesn’t connection Spain to Bacon’s life at all). He was an Oxford boy and worked at the University of Paris until becoming a Franciscan. Moreover, Europeans did not generally go to Spain to learn as in universities at this time (the first Spanish universities came in the 13th century and not in Cordoba; Seville’s was founded in c. 1260, well past Bacon’s schooling days), but there was a number of scholars that traveled there to find manuscripts in Arabic and translate them into Latin. Bacon was certainly inspired by Muslim scholarship, but he wasn’t a translator of Arabic texts himself nor did he mention Muslim flight attempts. Besides, is Bacon going to know of a flight by a Muslim in a different country to mentioned by other medieval European sources, or is it more likely he knew about his fellow Englishman Eilmer’s flight? So this connection made by 1001 Inventions is speculation based on nothing.

But could Ibn Firnas have inspired Eilmer? Unfortunately, there is no evidence to support this, and it is unlikely since there was not the great discovery of Arab science by Latins until the fall of Toledo to the Crusaders in 1085 (and Cordoba wouldn’t be in Latin hands until the 13th century). Best that we can tell, the flight attempts were independent, just as much as the ones in China. After all, the desire to fly is very common as seen in a plethora of myths, so independent groups making similar attempts at unpowered flights is not that unusual. (I also wouldn’t say the ancient Greeks and Romans didn’t try themselves; our records for that are very spotty, so it’s possible a missing record of a gliding flight has been lost to time; it would be a weak argument from silence to say that there were no such attempts.)

So, in summary, here is what the 1001 Inventions exhibit and book got wrong:

  1. Ibn Firnas almost certainly didn’t have powered flight; any flights would have been with gliders
  2. Ibn Firnas did not have the first flight; that honor goes to people in China
  3. It is unlikely that Ibn Firnas inspired anyone in Western Europe, hence a minimization of the “Muslim heritage” for the modern world

It is understandable why the exhibit wanted to make much hay of this flight. It has been very inspirational in the Muslim world, and airports are named after Ibn Firnas. But to make his flight relevant the exhibit got desperate, conflating fact and fantasy, making speculative jumps about who inspired who, and missing out on other attempts at the same thing centuries earlier. So, with a careful look at the evidence, indeed Edis and Brentjes are right in condemning the exhibit on the point of its presentation of flight in the Muslim world. Colavito was correct that Edis and Brentjes didn’t make clear how the exhibit was being inaccurate, but from the quoted text it is apparent that the authors were write in saying the exhibit promoted an early powered flight (though the book doesn’t use those exact words). It’s now very fair to say that the exhibit is propaganda: it has a clear political objective, and the facts are just not there.

I have focused on astronomy and this one flight, but the issues are to be found throughout the exhibit and book. The authors just don’t know ancient science very well, and I don’t think there was much in the way of historical training either. I’m not a trained historian, but I do at least try to learn the ropes and be critical with sources. That is what is failing here. And it’s unfortunate because there is so much the Arab world has contributed to us moderns. Sure, it may not be as impressive as some other cultures, but there is so much beauty gained in art and story we have, and science would not have progressed as it has without Arab contributions. The exhibit could be salvaged, but it will take a lot of work. Perhaps someone could produce a much more satisfactory book. I’d love to have that on my shelf!

Instead, we have Muslim apologetics, and it’s ever worse than the Christian version. On that next time…


20 thoughts on “Ibn Firnas Flies Again — More Trouble with 1001 Inventions

  1. Pingback: Did Christianity Invent Science? | Fleeing Nergal, Seeking Stars

  2. Pingback: Continuing the Conversation on 1001 Inventions | Fleeing Nergal, Seeking Stars

  3. Hi Aaron,

    you asked me whether I liked your text on Ibn Firnaas better. Yes, indeed, I do. It contains, however, a few problems. a) there is a typo in the quote you present for al-Maqqari; not having access to the Arabic text itself here at the Baltic sea where I have no books with me, only my laptop, I used the English translation of 1840 (http://books.google.de/books?ei=M8-CUM_iDrPF0AHPuoD4Aw&dq=Maqqari+Firnas&jtp=148&id=dRVlWhdJkZYC&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false). The time measuring device is transliterated there as minkálah, not minkdlah, which is impossible in Arabic. Then there is a real problem with the translation of the poem and hence with the evidence. I took the Arabic from footnote 34 in the English translation of 1840. It runs (in transliteration, without the long vowels, because I do not know how to print them in your blog, a dot before a letter for emphatic consonants, and unfortunately the same stroke for hamza and ‘ayn, two different letters) as follows: ya.tummu ‘ala (there is a typo in the 1840 book which gives ‘alayya = over me, against me and similar things) l-‘anqa’ fi .tayaraniha; idha ma kasiya juthmanahu ri.ha (or: rayya.ha ?) fa-sha’ama (this must be either an extremely rare word since I could not find it in the only dictionary of classical Arabic I have access to at the moment, namely Lane, nor in the modern dictionary I have with me; a possible explanation would be a typo, since there is sha’ana = to puff up, according to the medieval dictionary Lisan al-‘arab, which a friend of mine was so kind to check). This does not mean what die English translation of 1840 offers nor was the anonymous translation included in your quote proposes. In the most literal translation possible for me at the moment (I am discussing this verse with my friends and colleagues to see whether anybody has a better understanding than myself) this verse means: He flew higher than the griffon in her flight, when that what covered his body was entered by the wind and puffed up. Here you see probably how problematic the discussion of such things can be and how much care and work needs to be invested to find out what the sources may or may not say. Finally I have a problem with what the word gliding means. You speak of jumping and then falling. I am fine with that given the textual evidence I have access to right now. But there is no evidence for a description that points to gliding. As you say clearly a human being can not fly by clapping his arms to which feathers in the form of a wing are attached. I thought gliding is a kind of sailing in the air. This is impossible without some more solid structure than wings made from feathers and attached to one’s body. But correct me please if I am misunderstanding the issue.

    There is also a problem with the issue of when translating from Arabic into Latin began and what impact the early translations had, something not settled yet among historians of science. Moreover, issues of dissemination of knowledge and information are not easy to solve since many aspects of these processes are not documented in the type of written, visual or archaeological sources we have access to at any given moment. So while you are right that evidence for a transfer from al-Andalus to England on the matter of Ibn Firnas is lacking, we cannot say more than that, i.e. we cannot conclude with absolute certainty that it took not place.

    The one sentence, though, I take issue at, is your last. I can’t see that 1001 Inventions as Muslim apologetics (sure) is worse than Christian (and I add from my position: any other, i.e. secular, Hindu, Chinese etc.) apologetics. I would like to know how your measure the difference.

    Best, Sonja

    • Hi Sonja,

      Thank you for the text-critical considerations of the verse. It’s something I simply cannot do with the Arabic, so your contribution is well beyond anything I could do. I should tell you my other translation of the verse from Múmen Ibn Sa’id came from Lynn White’s 1961 article on Eilmer and his flight. But if there are issues even with that translation, I don’t mind that being made clear. I’ll add an update to this blog post with your translation so people don’t have to search through the comments.

      As for my choice of the word “gliding”, all it means is that he didn’t just fly straight down but had some forward velocity because of his wings. That seems consistent with the poem from Ibn Sa’id in any of the translations as well as the other sources I mentioned. It is also consistent with the flight of Eilmer which claimed to go a furlong which is on the same order of magnitude I considered plausible for Ibn Firnas’ flight. I don’t mean to say that Ibn Firnas had an instrument to fly like Otto Lilienthal or a modern glider, only that he didn’t just do a parachute jump.

      As for my claim about the quality of Christian vs. Muslim apologetics, I mean that in respect to religious apologetic, so comparing to Chinese apologetics seems inappropriate. And while I do believe Christian apologists are not making convincing arguments, they have a lot of erudition behind them. They come from people who learn the languages of the Bible, earn PhDs, write on history and philosophy (even in journals), and write vast tomes in defense of the faith. As one example, Mike Licona’s book on the resurrection of Jesus (“The Resurrection of Jesus: A Historiographical Approach”) is huge (700+ pages), goes into the nature of history, and engages a lot of scholarly publications, both faithful and skeptical. The works of N.T. Wright are also vast, and he is a well-respected scholar. There are also philosophers such as Richard Swinburne that use Bayesian statistical inference to argue for the existence of God and Jesus is his son. It takes a lot of background knowledge to properly engage these works.

      I don’t see anything like this in Muslim apologetics. This may be in part because there has not been the higher criticism of the Qu’ran in the Islamic world as there has been the higher criticism of the Bible in Christian Europe, nor has the higher critical approach been around as long (and censorship or just not translating works into Arabic cannot help). The “best” argument I hear is the claimed embryology of the Qu’ran even though it was inspired by Galen’s physiology and not in line with what is true (and expected from divinities). I have not found works engaging in the nature of historiography or Bayes’ theorem among Muslim apologists.

      So I do see more sophistication in Christian apologetics, but perhaps because it has had to become more baroque to remain convincing.

      • Hi Aaron,

        thanks a lot for the reply with its answers. I appreciate that very much. Don’t publish my comments on the Arabic verse and its possible meanings yet. I was still trying to muddle through it and find further material with the help of colleagues.

        It seems that the English translation of 1840 which I had access to has a number of typos in its reproduction of the Arabic verse, hence my surprise and confusion. Now a colleague checked the printed Arabic text of al-Maqqari and confirmed that the second line is
        idha ma kasa juthmanahu rish qash’am. Then, with the explanations given in the medieval dictionary Lisan al-‘arab which another friend sent to me we can perhaps translate both lines as:
        He flew higher than the griffon in her flight,
        whenever (?) he covered his body with feathers of an old eagle.

        So maybe the old eagle is not a metaphor, but a reference to the real material? I don’t know.

        Whether we should take this verse as trustworthy evidence for the details of Ibn Firnas’ actions, not as poetic freedom (the griffon is a fabulous animal), I am not certain or better I am rather inclined to doubt.

        Best, Sonja

      • Hi Aaron,

        a last little comment on the issue of qash’am. I asked my friedn how come that qash’am can mean and old eagle, a lion and in connection with umm (mother) a hyena. she answered that the medieval dictionary considers qash’am as an adjective that can be added (or stand for obviously in an elliptical form) to anything that is big and old and gives as examples in addition to eagle and lion even a spider. 🙂

        Thanks too for your explanation of how you measure the difference in apologetics. This makes some sense to me. I did not think you were referring to this kind of interpretations. I thought you were talking about the kind of presentation of the past that 1001 Inventions offers. That is why I included secular, nationalistic forms of apologetics. As for religious apologetics in Islamic sources of today, this is not my field of expertise. In order to be certain that there is nothing more sophisticated out there in any of the languages used today by Muslim writers, one would have to do a quite substantial study of such sources. I can’t do that. But maybe there are colleagues who work on that topics which is certainly interesting. There are however interesting efforts among various camps of Muslim scholars regarding the debates on the Qur’an. One does not have to agree with them, but there are Muslims who do serious work on such issues.

        Best, Sonja

  4. Hi Aaron,

    one of my Iranian colleagues proposed to emend the entire second line into something else, but I hesitate to follow him because the emendation is rather substantial, I have no access to the manuscripts. Thus I cannot judge how plausible they are in the frame of the textual transmission. Furthermore the metaphor of quash’am, which my colleague translates as an old eagle, may, perhaps, not be the best for the situation of Ibn Firnas’ flight and, in addition, my dictionaries only translate qash’am as lion which does not make any sense here:

    idha ma kasa (this is fine) juthmanahu rish qash’am = if that what covers his body is the plumage of an (old) eagle.

    furthermore, there is the little problem of how to understand idha ma. I translated it it so far as if that. It could also be translated as whenever. This would change the meaning of the verse quite remarkably, since it would suggest a repeated flying effort, i.e. he flew higher than the griffon, whenever his body was covered … whatever the rest of the line we decide to be.

    Things are thus more delicate than the available English texts make clear. This is fun, of course. I hope other colleagues will contribute to figuring out how best to read and then to translate the verse.

    Best, Sonja

  5. Hi Sonja,

    Thanks for continuing to investigate the meaning of this poetic verse. I am surprised just how hard it is to interpret Arabic, or at least in this case. And I thought ancient Greek was hard!

    As to Muslim apologetics, I differentiate that from scholarship. Apologetics mean to defend the faith against objections rather than because it is the evidently correct position. For example. there are apologists for natal astrology even though it is wrong by objective evidence. Apologists also rely not on the best arguments but the ones to get to the preferred conclusion. I see this in starch opposition to scholarship which ought to be guided by the best arguments and evidence. So you don’t see a professional Muslim scholar using the Qu’ranic embryology verses to defend the authenticity of the revelation to Mohammad, but you will see that argument used by those with little knowledge of philology and biology.

    But you are correct in saying how a sort of census ought to be had to compare apologetic efforts by Muslims. Again, my Arabic is nonexistent, but one would think if there were good arguments coming from Turkey or Saudi Arabia it would have come to the English-speaking world. Instead we get Harun Yahya using pictures of fishing lures to disprove evolution (I am not kidding):
    Those that fight creationism have also noted that Muslims have been using standard tropes that Christian creationists use against evolution, minus things that deal with biblical literalism (see Numbers, “The Creationists”, for example). Importing apologetics suggests that there isn’t as much effort to create their own. But this is not the same as surveying the matter of Muslim apologetics scientifically, so I take your point.

    • Hi Aaron, as I said a good chunk of my confusion was caused by the typos in the Arabic quote of 1840 and my lack of access to al-Maqqari’s text in Arabic. Once that was solved, things got clearer. But nonetheless, yes, Arabic has its problems, ambiguities, multiple meanings and poetry is clearly a particularly difficult challenge.The issue with idha ma, for instance, cannot be solved unequivocally. It can mean when and whenever and whether the first line is meant as a logical or as a temporal, a unique or a multiple consequence of the second I cannot say nor can my friend who is an Arabic native speaker. At the end, however, it is clear that the poem doesn’t speak of more than a plumage, feathers as a collectivum of an old eagle which covered Ibn Firnas’ body. This is clearly less than al-Maqqari’s claim about feathers and wings (if the English translation of 1840 is correct here what I do not know). According to the Lisan al-‘arab, the poem speaks of flying high (the verb .tamma in its basic meaning signifies rather flowing over, inundating), higher than a mythical bird, which is more likely a poetic image than a truthfil statement about what happened. Hence, we do not know very much about what Ibn Firnas did and how he did it, I mean with which means he did it. In this sense, the story of Ibn Firnas is closed for me.

      As for apologetics, there are physicists, astrophysicists, Christian and Muslim, who are quite apologetic (in my view) in their efforts to defend divine participation in physical phenomena as well as in their presentation of the past and past ‘sciences’. And there are quite numerous Muslim scholars of religious beliefs (what they called in the past mutakallimun, what (lets be brief) western tradition calls theologians (the two do not exactly the same things, but are similar in a number of issues)) who debate among themselves and against others about the Qur’an, science, creation, biomedical issues etc. in all sorts of languages in addition to Arabic and Turkish. I know that their sophistication is often pretty low, but as I said it is not my field of expertise, I do not know most of this literature and hence I will not speculate on whether some of these people have come up with more solidly based arguments. Appropriating arguments from other cultures is nothing negative as such. All these things depend very much on their contexts and a detailed investigation.

      Now, that’s all from me on this topic and for today. I will write something on our conflict in regard to how each of us reads the texts of the other later, perhaps tomorrow.

      Thanks, it was nice talking to you and I am pleased I learned something about the poem.

      Best, Sonja

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  10. Hi Aaron Adair,

    How are you? I just would like to say thank you for your comment. However, I want to tell that the work “minkálah” is Arabic and it has a big meaning than in English. Some Arabs like me, translated it as Protractor, but check for more because it is more than that. I encourage you to look for Arabic dictionary instead the English for more details. About the Qur’an, you seemed have no knowledge about the book and you need to learn and read more. Thank you

    • Hello Hussam,

      I really didn’t talk about the term minkalah, that was Prof. Brentjes who knows the language infinitely better than I do as well as the manuscripts involved with this poem related to the flight of Ibn Firnas. And given the context, it does seem that the minkalah object is more than a protractor.

      As for the Qu’ran, I didn’t really talk about it in the main post, only in the comments, and just about how the various apologetics I have seen appear to be inferior in quality to that from Christians, which I also do not find convincing.

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  12. Pingback: FLYING MACHINE – Fact Checking Muslim Science Claims


  14. The munya al-Rusāfa was a estate-palace/residence located north of Córdoba. Archaeologists have excaved it and documented that was a reformed Roman fundus with two small Roman aqueducts, some water tanks and ditches. It is not very likely that the al-Rusāfa had tall buildings to “jump” from them.

    The minaret of the Mosque of Cordoba was built by Abd al-Rahman III in the 10th century. The tallest building in the Qurtuba of ibn Firnās was probably the al-qasr, the enlarged(?) Visigothic castellum, close to the Roman bridge, in the south-western corner of the Roman walls.

    Al-Maqqari’s work was intended as a panegyric about the wonders of al-Andalus, and its credibility has been very questioned, because it is full of hyperbolic descriptions, myths and obvious exaggerations. Among other things, he says that Alexander the Great conquered Spain and built a bridge in the Strait of Gibraltar, the mountains of Cordova were full of rose trees, Cordova had one million of inhabitants and al-Mansūr (Abu ʿAmir Muhammad ben Abi ʿAmir al-Maʿafirí) had an army of 200,000 knights and 600,000 infantrymen, etc, etc.

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